Hollywood meets human rights; Amal takes up FPGMA’s case
Hollywood meets human rights; Amal takes up FPGMA’s case
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2014 - 12:00am

Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s fiancee was in Manila last year. She is the daughter of my long time friend Al-Hayat Foreign Editor Baria Alamuddin whom I met in London when I lived there in exile.

She interviewed me on television about the Edsa revolution and we became friends ever since, often traveling between the Middle East and Southeast Asia and vice versa to keep a life-long friendship.

She was the last journalist to interview Indira Gandhi. But I will not run a catalogue on Baria’s accomplishments as a journalist because there are many. Just as I was writing this column, Baria emails me to add:

“I have always been very proud of my children  Ziad, Samer, Tala and Amal. They brought me and Ramzi a lot of joy and happiness, and of course I am extremely proud of Amal’s academic and professional achievements, serving justice and humanity around the world. Remember what the famous Lebanese philosopher Gubran Khalil Jubran said in his famous book the Prophet  (our children are the Children of the World)). P.S. Remember I gave this book to Cory Aquino when I met her in Malacanang Palace and you where there.”

We were mothers often talking about our daughters than our careers. Amal was the daughter she would talk to me about who was studying law in Oxford as Veronica was my daughter who had been in Cambridge, later hired by CNN in Atlanta and Hong Kong and now with Al-Jazeera.

*   *   *

That was way before anyone of us, even her mom, had any inkling that George Clooney, the lady killer and perennial bachelor from Hollywood, was dating and courting her. As her mom put it to me, she was shocked that I would even entertain such rumors. That was last year when I joined the PAL inaugural direct flight to London in November.

When in London, I stay in their house in the suburbs, in what was once Amal’s room when she was younger.

Anyway, the long and short of this introduction is that her mom and I had to pass by her flat in Central London and I had the occasion to chat with her. It is one of those serendipitous conversations. I had just read about former President GMA’s deteriorating health and being imprisoned without bail.

She told me about her work as a lawyer. Among them were Cambodia vs Thailand, a request for interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear. She also represented Cambodia in inter-state territorial claim (International Court of Justice, The Hague), Prosecutor vs Senussi and Gaddafi. Representing Abdallah Al Senussi, former Libyan intelligence chief, in case of alleged crimes against humanity (International Criminal Court, The Hague), Tymoshenko vs Ukraine, Representing Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian Prime Minister, in human rights claim (European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg), Sweden vs Assange, representing Julian Assange, head of Wikileaks, in extradition proceedings (City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London) and United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s advisor on Syria, and previously offered counsel into the UN’s use of drones so on and so on. I was half asleep because of jetlag but when I heard her speak on the case of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister, I jumped up and said, gosh Amal, you are heaven sent. That is what I do, she says, even political enemies have rights when I told her about Arroyo’s case and if that can be brought before the UN Court, she said yes, of course if there is reason.

*      *      *

I went back to Manila and dismissed the conversation until an email from her came saying she was on her way to speak at the University of Singapore and she could pass by Manila. She stayed for one day and one night and we made the rounds of people and parties that night to give her an idea of what Manila life was like.

I gave a small dinner in my home with just close friends, among them the Lebanese honorary consul and his wife, Vicky Javier, Francis Manglapus, Ambassador Alberto Encomienda and the Vietnamese political attaché Cang.  She met former President Fidel Ramos at the Chinese National Day and the American ambassador Harry Thomas at the wine museum owned by the Josephs. The next day we had lunch at former Speaker Jose P. de Venecia’s place.

 By the time she was on her way to London she committed to help former President Arroyo by advising her on her rights under international law. This was not about power politics but about human rights and every individual was entitled to it, she said.

*      *      *

Even with such high profile clients it was the announcement of her engagement to George Clooney that made big news. I emailed her and said I would write an article on “Hollywood meets Human Rights.” For that is the beauty of the engagement between Amal Alamuddin, the human rights international lawyer and George Clooney. Whatever human rights case Amal will now handle would have the built-in publicity of being engaged to the Hollywood actor.

Clooney, however is not just an actor from Hollywood. He has also taken up advocacies for peace in Sudan and Syria. That is what brought them together in the first place. He was UN special messenger of peace for six years but has now resigned the job for professional reasons and other advocacies.

It was also reported that he had once worked to raise awareness about the displacement of millions in Darfur.  How many know he was once arrested when he joined a protest in Sudan?

He co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project, giving millions to raise awareness and document the “mass atrocities” taking place in the region.

“Retiring from his UN role will afford him the independence to move forward with this and other personal advocacy projects and activities,” a UN official said.

From Hollywood and the English tabloids the news was about her $750,000 engagement ring and the women who had been in George Clooney’s life. How does Hollywood square with human rights?

*      *      *

My answer: perfect. Amal will bring in the interest and the push needed in the world for human rights violations with George Clooney of Hollywood by her side.

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